Intentional

Positioning Yourself to Receive all that God has for Your Life

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At the outset of this blog, I want to make it clear that I understand once you receive Jesus into your heart as your personal savior that you are positioning yourself to receive God’s grace, mercy, love & salvation.  If you do or have done an in depth study on the book of Romans, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. But what these next few blogs are going to be talking about…is receiving God’s blessings for your life.  There are certain things that both you and I have to do to be able to position ourselves to receive all that God has for our lives.

The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” – Proverbs 10:22

The heart of God is to bless you. He wants to increase you.  He wants you to enjoy the abundant life. The more than enough life. He wants you to be able to experience the (Zoe) of God which is his peace, joy & blessings…and like the scripture says ‘without painful toil for it.’

Are you ready to position yourself?

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#1. Maintain a Holy Fear of God.

The first thing you and I must do is learn how to maintain a holy fear of God.  We must learn to live a life where we answer to an “audience of one.” We can’t get caught up in pleasing people but we must be caught up in pleasing the one that matters most…God.  Pleasing God will bring conviction in our lives and conviction is the compass that guides our lives.  Do you have a holy fear of God? Meaning a reverence, a respect and a love for God?

This idea was foreign to me when I first came to the Lord because I grew up in disobedience and rebellion.  You might be able to relate with me. But over time…and fast forward over three decades later…I have learned how to value my relationship with God.  When he speaks, I listen.  I listen even to the point that if others are against it…I will still obey.  And I want to encourage you to do the same.  At the end of our lives we will have to stand before God and answer for everything He entrusted us to do…I don’t know about you but I take that very serious. And more than pleasing people…I want to be pleasing to Him. Who are you pleasing?

The good life begins in the fear of God—
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever! (Psalm 111:10 – The Message)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Good sense is shown by everyone who follows God’s guiding principles.
His praise continues forever. (Psalm 111:10 – Living Bible)

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We usually approach God with one of the following types of fear:

a.  Bad Fear – In the bible this is referred to as “pachad.” This is a person reacting to something sudden or startling to the point of trembling. This type of fear is synonymous with terror, horror or alarm.  This fear can hold you back and paralyze you from doing things you know you should do. This kind of fear will paralyze or damage your faith.

b. Good Fear – I like how Charles Finney put it.  “It’s an affectionate reverence where God’s sons and daughters…they come into his presence and they humbly bow their hearts, their attitudes, their minds and their lives before a loving father.”

Have you been coming to God that way? The problem is that sometimes we have the wrong perspective of ourselves.  Sometimes we feel that people are putting us down when in reality it’s just God dealing with our pride.  We need conviction and when we don’t have it, we begin to become people that are married to compromise.  It fits into our little world so we keep it.  It’s sad too because some people have had the same bent in their lives for years…they get the victory for a season but then go right back to it later like an old familiar friend. Don’t be like those in the following verse:

For the leaders of my people—
    the Lord’s watchmen, his shepherds—
    are blind and ignorant.
They are like silent watchdogs
    that give no warning when danger comes.
They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming. (Isaiah 56:10)

To fear the Lord is to avoid evil.”

What’s your weakness? I want to encourage you today to do something about it.  We all have something.  It could be a bent towards being negative, lust, gossiping, anger, jealously…believe me this list can get pretty long.  But you can’t just ignore it…you gotta do something about it.  Start today by taking a few moments to evaluate your fear of God.  Do you have an awe of God in your life? When God speaks, do you listen and obey?  Have you been wrestling with God in your mind? Whatever it might be, respond the way David did in Psalm 51. Take time today to read that chapter and let God speak to you.  The first step in positioning yourself to receive all that God has for your life is maintaining a Holy Fear of God!

7 Things To Help You Accomplish Your Dreams

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In the last blog, we began to dream. I know God has given you a dream.  Have you taken the time to really think about all that God has for you to do?  I’m in awe when I really begin to think about the privilege that God has given you and I to partner with Him in building His kingdom.

Today I’m going to begin to share “7 Things (that I have learned in my own life) to Help you Accomplish Your Dreams.” We won’t get through all seven today, but I believe that if you begin to put these guides into practice, you’ll see God begin to make your dreams a reality.  You affect your own life. I wish that I could regulate other people’s spiritual appetite…but I can’t.  They have to decide what they will do with their life each and every day.  It’s the same with you.  But I believe that you want more…or you wouldn’t be taking the time to read this blog.  So I know you’re a dreamer.  What are the dreams you have for your life this year? Do you have dreams to be a better husband? A better wife? A better student? A better son? A better child of God?

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#1. Define Your Dream (Write it Down)

The first thing we have to do is write it down. You must have something to write down and that is why I took the time to write the last blog.  You have a dream.  We all do. Without that, it’d be hard to start the process of seeing it come to pass. Let me ask you a question, how important is your life? I would dare to say that it’s pretty important or you wouldn’t be taking the time to make it better.  You control the outcome of your life, no one else.  You control the attitude that you have when certain things happen…no one else can do it for you.  Don’t let other people affect the quality of your life…they’re just flies on the wall anyway.

People with goals succeed, people with plans move forward.

Take the time today to write down the vision that God has given to you.  Don’t stay in the same place too long.  In football, each team has 25 seconds to come up with a plan and then attack.  It’s sad however that some people have been stuck in a huddle for years.  Don’t be that person. Write down the things that God has been telling you today.

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#2. Divine Dreams Require Patience (Trust God’s Clock)

Patience. Now that’s a hard one right there.  Would you describe yourself as patient? In my natural nature…I am not even close to being patient.  What about you? You know when I’m patient? When I pray.  It’s only in those times when I get alone with God that I am able to put my trust fully in Him and all that He desires to do in my life. I shared in the last blog that it took 17 years for the promise that God gave me to unfold. 17 years!!! Talk about patience. The great thing about our God…is that he knows WHEN.  He knows when we’re ready for promotion.  He knows when we’re ready for His blessings.  He knows when we’re ready to step into the next level of what He has planned for us.  He knows WHEN…

There were many people in the Bible that had to learn patience.  Noah had to wait 120 years for the ark to be completed (talk about a project). Abraham had to wait years for a son.  Sometimes, we’re going to have to wait.  And it won’t matter how much we want it to happen, how much we plead or how frustrated we might get…it still will only happen in God’s timing.  Don’t be like Sarah who took it upon herself to come up with a plan to try to help God.  She decided that since she was beyond the age of child bearing that she would have Hagar (her servant) bear a child with Abraham. Let me just throw this in for free…God doesn’t need our help.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  And when we decide to step out because of impatience, like Sarah…we’ll give birth to things in the flesh.  Learn to trust God’s timing. When you don’t trust God’s timing…you’ll start asking the WHY & WHEN question. Take a real honest look at your life today…have you been trusting God’s Clock? Or maybe…have you been a little on the impatient side and trying to do things in your own strength?

The Best is Yet to Come

The Best is Yet to Come2“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

Let me start this blog off by saying that this is going to be the best year of your life. I believe that with all of my heart! If you’re breathing as you’re reading this (go ahead and take a deep breath just to make sure that’s you) then God is not finished with you.  There’s still a work that He has for you to accomplish. I love how Jesus says it in this verse, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” He’s talking to YOU & I! He wants you to have a FULL life! Another version puts it like this, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in your life this year.  It’s going to be better than you could of dreamed of. Believe me, The Best is Yet to Come!!!

Dream-Big

Over the next few blogs, we’re going to dream. And if I were you, I’d dream big.  I don’t know about you, but I serve a big God.  He has given me some big dreams.  Dreams that are so big that I need His help to see them come to pass.  Are those the kind of dreams you have?  I believe God has a special dream he has already given you.  I’d dare to go as far as saying that some of you already know what that dream is.  Maybe there was a dream you had last year but weren’t able to see it come to pass.  I want to encourage you to get up, dust yourself off and get back to it.  I remember the first time God told me I was going to be a pastor.  Something inside of me thought that it was going to happen the very next year.  Well…was I wrong. It actually took 17 years to see it come to pass.  Should I repeat that? 17 years! There’s going to be a little thing called “The Process” for all of us.  But God is with you & here’s a little secret between you and I…God’s promises don’t have an expiration date attached to them!  I know that’s good news to someone.  Be encouraged today.  God still has greater things for you.  He has a dream he wants you to accomplish.  It might seem a little far fetched…but that’s the God we serve.  He’s in the business of working out the impossible.

So what’s your dream? What’s your passion? What do you have a strong desire for this year? Maybe you want to see God do something new in your family, your marriage, your career, your finances, your spiritual life or some other area in your life.  This could even be the year that you start to give back to those around you in a brand new way.  Maybe God’s been putting it in your heart to open up your house to host a bible study (life group), helping people who might of came from a similar background as yourself or maybe just by being more available with the gifts and talents God has given you.  The possibilities are endless.  If you don’t know, I’d like to encourage you to make some time this week to get alone with God.  Quiet yourself in His presence and ask God to begin to speak to you.  Ask him to show you what He wants you to do this year.

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In Genesis 37:5-11, the Bible talks about how “Joseph had a dream.” I want you to go ahead and put your name there. “Wilber had a dream” or “Matilda had a dream.” You see where I’m going with this?  God has a dream for you! Our dreams are like a sharp double edged sword by which we cut through disappointments, discouragements, adversity and evil opposition.  Like we read in the beginning…it’s the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Maybe the enemy tried to come and do that to your dream this year.  But I want to encourage you to start dreaming again.  It’s a brand new year. God wants the best for you and your entire family.

I remember when I first came to know Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior that my dreams were small.  I just wanted to be a different person.  If you’re there, start there.  Once you begin to dream, God will exceed your expectations time and time again.  I encourage you to begin dreaming today. The Bible is full of people who had dreams. So, what’s yours? This is your year and The Best is Yet to Come!!!

“If you can dream it, you can it.” – Walt Disney

Why Should I Love My Church?

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Why Should I Love My Church?

If you’re taking the time to read this, then chances are you belong to a church. Ever wonder where we get the word “church” from? Or even who was the first person in the Bible to ever utter that word? Why is it even important for us to go to church? Was it just something for people in Biblical days? Over the next few blogs…all these questions and more will be answered.

Before you continue reading..take some time to answer this question for yourself…

Why Should I Love My Church?

church

Chances are your answer or answers to the question, “Why Should I Love My Church?” will change over the next few weeks.  So let’s go a little deeper into this subject.

Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” 

In this portion of scripture, we see a conversation between Jesus and Peter. It’s in this dialogue where we see the word “church” used for the very first time.  It’s interesting to see how Jesus switches from calling Peter first by his Hebrew name and then to his Greek name.   It’s actually on this scripture that the Catholic Church builds their beliefs on.  They even call Peter the first Pope.  What I want to focus your attention on is the fact that Jesus said, “my church.” We have to remember that it’s not our church, but His. He died for our sins and for the sins of the world.

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You might be thinking, “Ok big deal, but why should I love my church?”

I want you to think for a second this thought…if it wasn’t for the church, where would your life be? I understand that it was Jesus who made a way to change your life around…but if it wasn’t for the church, where would you be?  It means a lot more to us when it’s personal.

It was in the church where I found my purpose in life.  In the world, I was lost and caught up with so many other things…but when I came into the church, my life began to have true meaning.  It was in the church where you might have found your spouse. Of if you’re single…it’s in the church where you’re going to find your spouse.  You might have even met your spouse in the world…but it’s in the church where you’ll learn how to respect them, honor them and treat them right.  The world doesn’t do that.  They don’t teach Marriage 101 at the night club or party house. It’s here in the church where we learn to be men and women of God.

There’s so much more we’re going to talk about. I just wanted to get your mind thinking about the church and the important role it has played even in your own life. Loving our church goes much deeper. Over the next few blogs, we’ll discuss many more topics on this thought of Why Should I Love My Church?

A Bitter Taste: Part 2

CROSSING THE RED SEA

Before we jump into today’s blog, I just wanted to take a quick second to thank you for being a reader.  Whether this is the first blog you have read or even if you’re a frequent guest.  My prayer is that as we dig into God’s Word, you will be inspired, challenged & provoked to become all that God has called you to be.  You’re time is precious and I don’t want to waste it.

So let’s jump right in. Today we’re going to finish the conversation that we started in my last blog A Bitter Taste.  Feel free to take time to read or re-read that one before continuing with this one.  We’ve all had bitter experiences in life. It doesn’t matter how young, how old, your ethnicity, how long you’ve been saved…if you’re a living, breathing human…then chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We’re not the only ones who have had bitter experiences…we went through a whole list of people in the Bible in the last blog of many who became bitter.

Today, I want to give you a picture in the Bible where God turned a bitter experience into sweet victory. I want to leave you encouraged today.  Maybe you find yourself in a bitter situation today. It could be a financial situation (bills to pay, a shut off noticed just came in the mail, etc.), a relationship (with a spouse, a loved one, your children, etc.) or maybe you’re surrounded by negativity (criticism, people or maybe the devil’s been trying to give you one on one Bible Studies).  It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God can turn it around today.

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“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah). So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”” – Exodus 15:22-24

This is a very familiar story…at least what took place right before this.  Moses just led God’s people across the Red Sea.  Pharaoh & his army  were flooded.  God’s people were loving life.  They were rejoicing, singing songs and felt as if nothing could go wrong.  Can you relate? Ever had those moments where everything is going great? Everyone loves you, you get a promotion, the people you run into are nice, people let you cut in front of them on the freeway…you know what I mean? Well, they were definitely having a mountain top experience.  Then three days later…everything changed. They went without water for three days and began to grumble.  They even turned on Moses.  Just a few days before, they loved him.  Reminds me of how people welcomed Jesus by laying palm branches before him but a week later those same people were yelling “crucify him.”

This is where it gets good so pay attention.  As the story continues, Moses went before the Lord in prayer.  God shows Moses a tree, which he then throws in the water and it became sweet or ‘fit to drink.’  In one translation it says that he “pointed” to a tree.  Notice how God didn’t create a tree, but it was already there. The tree is a representation of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.  If we put Jesus (tree) in the center of our situation (sea), he’ll take care of the bitter waters (situation) and make them sweet. Are you putting Jesus in the middle of that stress, that marriage, that difficult financial situation or your most immediate need right now? I encourage you to make him the center.  Even with the situation that you feel will never work out…we serve a God who specializes in the impossible.

Moses & Red Sea

The chapter ends with them coming to Elim and this is the final thought I want to leave you with today.  There are two aramaic words for ‘Elim.’ The first root word is “mighty” and the second word is “a place of rest.” It can also be translated into a place of shade or provision.  When you allow God to be the center of your bitter experience, He’ll bring you to a place where you’ll have victory.  There were 12 springs & 70 palm trees where they camped.  Why 12 & 70? Well, if the tree points to Jesus, the 12 points to his disciples and 70 points to the crowd that followed Christ.  This points to ministry or God’s House. Look around the camp where God has placed you at today, you’re not alone. People stay weak & feable when they don’t plug into church and they try to do things on their own.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” – Hebrews 10:24-25

You’re victory is waiting for you. Let your bitter experiences make you better.  God did it for Moses, I’ve seen Him do it countless times in my own life and I know He’s going to do it for you too.  If you’re reading this it’s because God is not finished with you.  He still has so much more for you to experience in life.  Let that bitter taste leave today and let God set you up for sweet victories in your future.

A Bitter Taste…

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:15

Over the past couple of blogs, we’ve been discussing the 7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience. We’ve already unpacked a few of them; 1. Are You Ready for Change Yet? 2. Attacks Will Come. 3. Losers Focus on What They’re Going Through. & 4. How do You Respond to People? I hope each of them have really left you challenged, provoked and inspired to become all God has called you to be.  I take the time to share each of these thoughts with you because these have all been experiences that I have gone through in my own life.  What I’m sharing with you are principles that I have learned in my walk with God, they’re not things that I have gotten from a book.

Today I want to focus on just one of the 7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.  This would be number five of the bunch.  And I want to spend an entire blog dedicated to this particular subject because I feel this is something that will really hit home with everyone. So, let’s get to it: #5. Don’t Become Bitter.

We have to be careful not to get bitter when we’re in a pit experience.  I’ve seen bitterness trip people up in their walk with God.  And when I talk about bitterness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you become angry or hateful.  A lot of times bitterness has a way of not being an outward expression but an inward cancer.  If left untended, it could lead to depression, withdrawal and even no longer using your gifts & talents to build up the Body of Christ. It might be caused by the feeling of being overlooked, feeling something wasn’t fair and a list of many other things.  But you have to be careful with bitterness because it has many shades to it.

Those who created the pain of your present do not control the pleasure or the blessings of your future unless you let them.”

Hebrews 12:15 reminds us not to allow any “seed” to sprout up in the soil of our souls.  A seed starts out really small…almost unnoticeable.  But the bad thing when it comes to bitterness…if you let it grow, it’ll keep growing.  It’s like weeds in your front or back yard.  Even when you don’t have grass…weeds will stay green and continue to flourish unless you deal with them.  That’s why it’s so important to deal with bitterness at it’s root.  A good way to identify bitterness is when people begin to complain.  Bitterness usually starts with complaining…they’ll start to verbalize negativity.

The Bible gives a great illustration on this subject in the book of Matthew 20 when a landowner made a deal with a worker to do work in his vineyard for a set price.  The landowner then hired other workers who worked only an hour.  At the end of the day, he paid them both the same amount. The ones who were hired first “grumbled” or became bitter.  The landowner even said, “Am I not being fair? Didn’t we agree on this price?” In other words, sometimes God is asking us, “why are you bitter because someone else was a recipient of my grace & mercy?”

Many people in the Bible got bitter. Here’s just a small list; 1. Job 10:1 (Job complained over a situation he had no control over), 2. Genesis 27:34 (Esau sought forgiveness with bitter tears for giving up his birthright), 3. Exodus 1:14 (God’s people went through bitterness of heart), 4. Ruth 1 (Naomi changed her name to ‘mara’ which meant bitter. She even blamed God.), 5. 1 Samuel 1 (Hannah was bitter because she couldn’t have a child), 6. Ester (Hamman was bitter towards Mordecai). 7. Jeremiah (He got bitter towards God’s people where he didn’t want to use his gift of prophecy. 8. Peter (He became bitter with his own failures).

We’ll continue with this thought tomorrow. Today I just wanted to paint a picture of bitterness and how many of us can so easily come to a place of bitterness in our own life.  But we won’t stay here…it does get better for those who choose not to stay bitter.  We’ll get rid of that bitter taste tomorrow.

 

7 Things to Remember… [Part 2]

“They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns [pit]; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”” – Genesis 37: 18-20

Today we’re going to continue with the “7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.” We’ve already talked about two of them (1. Are You Ready for Change Yet? & 2. Attacks Will Come) in my previous blog 7 Things to Remember…. So let’s jump into two more thoughts today that I’d like to leave you with.

3. Losers Focus on What They’re Going Through

We talked about this briefly before but I want to state it again here.  Having a title, doesn’t exclude you from experiencing trials.  Maybe you’re a pastor, a leader, a manager at your job or someone with some kind of authority…that title doesn’t stop trials from coming your way (wouldn’t that be great?). As a matter of fact, it feels like they grow, last longer and come at a quicker speed than before.

I write this thought because when you go through your pits, you have a choice on how you will respond to that situation.  I have learned that while losers focus on what they’re going through (the here and now, the short term effect, their feelings, etc.)…Champions Focus on Victories.  We all experience the pressures of life. I know negative thoughts come to our minds on an almost daily basis. I know we’re surrounded by an enemy that bombards our minds, our eyes, our hearts and our families…but we have a choice of whether or not we’re going to let that poison effect us.  Let’s stay positive…only the devil & his demons like negativity. Joseph could of focused on what he was going through…but he didn’t. He kept going forward every step of the way. What are you focusing on today?

There are no short cuts to anyplace worth going to.” – Abraham Lincoln

4. How do You Respond to People?

Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” I think this one is going to hit a nerve for some of you. Why? Because this was something that I had to experience too.

How do you respond to people when you’re in a pit? I learned that when I would go through something, I would take it out on the people around me. Maybe this doesn’t apply to you, but maybe you know people like that.  When things don’t go their way; they get irritable, moody, angry, they get loud and…I think you see where this is going. (Ok, maybe those were just for me.)

Just take a moment and think about how you have been treating people lately.  Have you been sowing love, kindness and joy? When you see people going through a trial you went through years ago…do you offer a word of wisdom or are you thinking “you got to get over it you sniveling little sissy.” What about when you see someone that you haven’t seen in awhile? Are you quick to greet them with a loving embrace and say “it’s so good to see you” or do you think “where have you been?” It grieves me when I see people shoot the wounded. We should be the first to respond with grace…especially when we go through our pits.  Look how the pits changed Joseph.  It has a way of softening us.  We see later on when God brought people his way that Joseph responded with compassion.  He was quick to help them out.  How have you been responding to the people that God is bringing your way today…even if you are in a pit?

Let me end today’s blog with a great story. You never know how God will repay an act of kindness…

Late one blistering night, a couple dashed out of the rain into the lobby of a small Philadelphia Hotel hoping to secure a room for the night.  But much to their disappointment, the hotel was completely full.  “There are three conventions in town” said the cheerful front desk clerk.  “I’m afraid all the hotels are completely booked, you will not find a room anywhere in this city.”  The couple started to turn away and the clerk continued, “…but I can’t send a nice couple like you out in the rain at 1am in the morning. Would you be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite” he added. “But it will make you comfortable for the night.” The couple was reluctant to put the man out. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make out just fine.” And so finally they accepted his offer. In the morning the elderly gentlemen said to the clerk, “you’re the kind the of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.” The man at the front desk simply smiled and thanked him.  Two and a half years later, the hotel clerk received a letter from the elderly gentleman.  In it was a round trip ticket to New York City and a note. The note reminded the clerk of the night he had helped the couple and invited them to come up as guests. He had nearly forgotten about the incident.  But he decided to take them up on their offer. They picked him up at the airport and took him to the corner of 34th Street & 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  “That (pointing to a mammoth, giant new building made of reddish stone on the corner of 34th & 5th Ave) is a hotel I have just built for you to manage.” The clerk looked at the elderly gentleman saying, “Are you joking? You must be joking.” And the man responded, “I can be assured that I am not” with a smile. This is the story of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (One of the most historical 5 Star Hotels ever made.)

You never know how God will repay an act of kindness.  I want to challenge you today to sow kindness, love, joy and compassion to those that God is bringing your way this week…even if you find yourself in a pit experience.